NORTHERN MARIANAS COLLEGE POSITIONS FACE AXE

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By Sheila D. Amor

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (March 5, 1999 – Saipan Tribune)---Some 20 employees of Northern Marianas College who are holding ungraded positions will be served with a 90-day termination notice pending the opinion of legal counsel.

Former Lt. Gov. Jesus Borja, NMC's legal counsel, will deliver the verdict.

During the Board of Regents special meeting held yesterday, Chairman Manuel Sablan reiterated his intention to issue such termination letters to give the college a "breathing period" to address the financial and personnel issues confronting the institution.

"Give us 90 days to seriously look at these things. The idea is not to fire people but to reorganize . . . there are some positions here that will be restructured," he said.

The Board will convene a meeting with NMC employees as soon as the legal issue has been resolved. He also asked NMC President Agnes McPhetres to seek professional advice from outside while in the process of restructuring to ensure fairness.

However, in addition to its possible legal implications, his strong proposal also faced reservations from Vice-Chairman Ramon Villagomez, who expressed concern over the accreditation standing of NMC, since most of the department heads will be served with the notice.

"It appears not practical. I don't feel the Board is ready to issue these notices," he told Sablan.

With a number of department heads in attendance, the Chairman refused to believe that such a move will jeopardize NMC's accreditation standing since there is a cash flow problem and the restructure will fix it. If the accreditation team considers it a move against the college, he said, he will be the first person to contest the decision with the Chairman of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

He reminded his colleagues that the Board has the responsibility of settling NMC's financial issues once and for all.

"We have the responsibility to take charge. The president can terminate anybody today. The Board can terminate her at our pleasure," he said.

"I would like to get rid of the bad people. If we can do that legally, I will be the first one to offer that motion," Sablan added.

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